I believed ‘flights to nowhere’ had been foolish. Then I went on one.

I believed ‘flights to nowhere’ had been foolish. Then I went on one.

Hong Kong (CNN) — I’ve been on fairly just a few flights the place folks clapped when the aircraft landed. However this was the primary time I might been on a aircraft the place everyone clapped at takeoff.

Hong Kong Specific, a low-cost service based mostly — as you will have guessed from the title — in Hong Kong, has develop into the newest airline to supply sightseeing “flights to nowhere,” which contain planes touchdown in the identical vacation spot they departed from, with out stopping anyplace else.
To date, such flights have been well-liked. Qantas’ seven-hour sightseeing flights round Australia, which promised scenic aerial views of Uluru and the Nice Barrier Reef, bought out in 10 minutes.

In addition to giving airways an opportunity to recoup some misplaced income, these flights additionally afford aviation geeks the possibility to get again up within the sky, and revel in some little extras.

EVA Air’s particular Hiya Kitty aircraft could not have gone anyplace, however passengers received limited-edition Hiya Kitty swag on board.

Although the concept of those flights initially appeared sort of foolish to me — you must cope with all the effort of airport safety, after which don’t have anything to point out for it? — once I came upon {that a} hometown airline was providing one, I simply could not resist.

The commute

My favourite approach to get to the airport is by way of the high-speed categorical practice that departs from Hong Kong Station.

Like all over the place else within the metropolis, the practice station is awash with indicators reminding folks to maintain their masks on. Nonetheless, I felt daring sufficient to slide mine off for a bit to drink some water. Masks removing in Hong Kong is presently unlawful, and I felt a slight trace of hazard although there was nobody round to see me. (In any case, it is not arduous to socially distance if you find yourself the one particular person on the platform.)

Although just a few different stragglers did board on the practice’s different stops in Kowloon and Tsing Yi, I had a complete automotive to myself for the half-hour journey. I availed myself of each the free cellphone chargers and the free Wi-Fi.

The categorical practice is mostly a nice expertise, however doing it with out baggage was a sport changer. Or no less than a shoulder changer.

Arriving on the airport

Even though we weren’t leaving Hong Kong airspace, everybody on the flight nonetheless needed to undergo regular airport safety processes. That meant pulling my passport out of storage and placing a pair of socks in my purse in case I needed to take my sandals off.

Temperature screenings have already been a presence at Hong Kong Worldwide Airport for the reason that days of SARS and avian flu, however heightened protocols meant loads of free bottles of hand sanitizer stationed all through the terminal and fixed presence of cleansing crew.

It is a good factor there wasn’t a lot of a safety queue, although — on the final minute, I needed to pull stuff out of my pockets and take away my Kindle from its sleeve. It is official: I’m off form. A yr in the past, I might have grumbled rudely at another person for doing the identical factor proper on the safety scanners.

Many of the retailers and eating places on the airport had been closed, and there have been extra indicators asking folks to socially distance than there have been folks to do the social distancing.

The upside: Loos had been glowing clear.

The draw back: Not being on a world flight meant the duty-free store was off limits.

Within the sky

In my work as a journey author and editor, I used to fly no less than as soon as a month. When journey is your job, it takes a number of the glamor away — each stale $12 pastry and loud snorer shortly provides up.

However because the aircraft slowly pulled away from the gate, I discovered myself oddly emotional. All of the sudden, we broke out into spontaneous applause.

A rep from Hong Kong Specific had instructed us that one of many motivations behind their flights to nowhere was to remind folks of the magic of journey. Thirty seconds into the flight, I already felt like I used to be holding my breath. I discovered myself considering of my late grandmother, who grew up through the Nice Melancholy and did not fly on a aircraft for the primary time till she was in her thirties.

It is simple to neglect that aviation is a miracle.

Usually, I am a strict aisle-seater. However for the 75-minute loop round Hong Kong, it was all concerning the window.

It wasn’t simply the shortage of a ultimate vacation spot that made this flight completely different, although. There was no meals or beverage service — simpler to maintain masks on that approach — and no baggage. Boarding was unfold out, and all center seats blocked off. Greater than only a pleasure cruise within the sky, it was a peek at what flying will in all probability seem like because it resumes world wide.

Disembarking

At current, everybody coming into Hong Kong is topic to a 14-day quarantine both at their house or an permitted lodge.

To make it possible for passengers from the Hong Kong Specific flight did not get lumped in to the quarantine group, we had been every given vivid purple lanyards to put on on arrival. It was like quarantine was a vampire and our lanyards had been garlic, however the system labored.

Though I haven’t got jet lag or a stamp in my passport, my journey to nowhere in the end felt just a little — just a bit — like a trip.

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